Easy Make Ahead Smoothie Packs for the Busy Mom

The biggest difference I have noticed in this pregnancy compared to my first one is my insatiable desire for sweets. And while I am a big believer in having my cake in moderation, I needed to figure out a way to curb that sweet tooth that likes to hit me up mid morning. Or mid afternoon. Or middle of the night. Whatever. #pregnantprobs

And since I have a toddler running around me who insists that snacks are his life source (check out healthy snack alternatives for your toddler here) and a husband I like to cook for, I needed to figure out a healthy way to tame the sweetness I was craving all the time while keeping my sanity in feeding everyone else. Mamas, I give you my ultimate easy peasy smoothie hack.

This post may contain affiliate links. See full disclosure here.

The secret to these smoothies is to freeze the yogurt ahead of time in ice cube trays.

Why is this a hack for me? Because when it comes to smoothies, having frozen fruit is somewhat easy because that can sit in your freezer. Having greens to throw in isn’t too bad because I keep salad around usually. I like to keep a variety of yogurt cup flavors in my fridge but good o’l plain Greek yogurt for smoothies? Nope. It will go bad before I get around to using it most of the time!

The other key to making these smoothies easy peasey and grab-on-the-go ready is a 15 minute plan ahead session. Seriously, besides buying the items at the grocery store, it only took me about 15 minutes to put these smoothie bags together ahead of time and voila! When the cravings hits, I put a bag of my smoothie goods in the blender and within minutes I’m drinking some healthy sweet goodness.

HERE’S WHAT YOU’LL NEED AHEAD OF TIME:
1 large container of yogurt + ice cube trays
6 bags of frozen fruit (Aldi has great priced frozen fruit that make the perfect serving size of two!)
1 bag of frozen spinach (also found at Aldi!)
1 batch of Kale, stripped from the stems
Flax Seed (because I need that extra boost of Omegas!)
12 Quart sized Freezer Ziploc bags
Orange Juice or Coconut Water to help liquify your smoothie at the time of blending. Both can be found at Aldi of course!

 

FREEZING THE YOGURT TIP

I highly recommend freezing yogurt in ice cube trays  and I personally love these silicone ones. It makes blending simple and quick. You can buy whatever yogurt suits your fancy–greek, nonfat, plain, vanilla, etc. I prefer whole milk vanilla. Just divvy out a whole large container yogurt into some ice cube trays and let them freeze.

One large container made exactly 24 cubes for me, as you can see below.

Once they are done in the freezer get ready to assemble your smoothie bags! I use 2 cubes of yogurt per bag which makes me 12 smoothie bags. Score!

TIP ABOUT THE FROZEN FRUIT
I would plan to get two big handfuls of fruit from each bag which will give you enough fruit for 12 smoothie bags (so for me, that’s 6 bags of fruit). The fruit is not an exact science so eyeballing it is no biggie. If you’re like me, you might buy a variety of fruit so you can mix and match or just buy whatever the heck you want!

TIP ABOUT THE SPINACH & KALE
I just cut up the frozen spinach into 12 cubes. It works out rather nicely since the frozen spinach from Aldi comes as a square block. You can always zap it in microwave while you’re setting up to soften it a smidge to make cutting easier.

The kale does not have to be pretty at all. I just wash it and quickly strip it from the stems using a knife. This handy video shows you an easy way to do it which is what I prefer. My batch of cut kale filled the size of a medium bowl. I still had a little bit left over that I just used in a salad. I wouldn’t worry about chopping it super fine since it’s going to end up in the blender anyways.

HERE’S WHAT YOU’LL PUT IN EACH SMOOTHIE BAG
2 frozen yogurt cubes
1 cube of cut from frozen spinach
Handful of kale
1 TBSP of Flax Seed
Handful of your frozen fruit

TIP TO GET AIR OUT OF YOUR BAG FOR FREEZING
If we have them around, I stick a straw down in the bag and seal it around the straw, then suck the air out of the bag to make it as air tight as possible. If you don’t have a straw, you can seal the bag until you have just a little hole open at the top and put your lips up to it to suck the air out. It still works that way too!

When it’s time to blend everything. all you need to grab from the fridge is your frozen smoothie bag and your liquid of choice. You can gradually add your liquid of choice until you reach a consistency you like.

THAT’S IT! I love the way the bags look when I’m all done. I know, my type A personality is showing.

There you go Mamas! I hope this tip helps you in whatever season of motherhood you’re in. And if you like this, join the tribe to receive updates like this straight to your mailbox. You can also always PIN IT for later. I’d love to hear how this method worked for you. Once you try it, come back and let us know how it went in the comments below!

Peace,
Glo

 

My Favorite Must Haves for Toddlers to Help in the Kitchen

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Something happened when Bubby started walking when he was about 12 months. He had to be EVERYWHERE I was. And if you know anything about being home with a toddler, a lot of time can be spent in the kitchen fetching snacks, figuring out lunch, surviving meltdown hour until dinner time…

In order to avoid having my clothes tugged on until they were two sizes two big and milk spilled on my shoes, I decided I needed to change my game plan. I needed to help Bubby develop as my kitchen helper. So I did what any good mama does and started googling, looking for tips.

I came away realizing that having kitchen utensils that actually allow my toddling son to feel like he is part of what I’m doing would definitely outweigh the costs. I want him to feel comfortable and confident in the kitchen when we’re cooking. Here are a few of my favorite items!

(This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are always my own and unbiased. See full disclosure here.)

Items and Ideas for Toddlers in the Kitchen. Items for your Toddler to help in the kitchen.

Learning Tower
I absolutely love having a learning tower and I wish I would have bought one sooner. It is by far my favorite toddler kitchen item. If you start looking up learning towers, you’ll find lots of different options out there. I wasn’t too concerned about having one that he could climb in and out of by himself, but I did want one that was smaller and wouldn’t take up a lot of room in our kitchen. I found this one on Etsy and enjoyed that I could customize the colors.
img_0020 img_0041 img_0039The biggest thing I would complain about this learning tower is that at first, I thought I would like how narrow it was so I felt like he was safer while standing with me. After having it for a while, I wish I would have purchased one like this. Yes, it’s bigger, but it’s foldable and I think I would have liked that feature better.

As you can tell, the width doesn’t hinder him from being able to enjoy what he helps me cook with! 🙂

Toddler Weaning Table
This toddler table or as many call it, “weaning table” is definitely my second favorite item. We keep it stashed in corner of our kitchen, and I love how I can just slide it over by the cabinets so he can work on whatever he is “cooking” while I’m cooking. This is especially helpful to have if I’m doing something that is hot over the stove and need him to be occupied with his own task. I can just set him with something easy (like sorting pasta or rice, he LOVES doing that!) and get supper going!
img_0043I also love this table because as he is getting older, he can carry his snacks over to the table by himself and eat on his own. We practice some Montessori in our house and this table helps with that a lot too. I love the versatility it brings and the independent training it offers too! Plus, once you start looking at toddler tables, I felt the price point was decent.

Toddler Approved Kitchen Utensils
I keep a draw like this just for Bubby’s stuff. I can easily grab what I need if we’re cooking a certain item so he can start helping me right away. Here is a list of regular go-to items that you’ll find in his drawer. I bought most of these from Wal-Mart and Amazon too!

  • Silcon spatulas–Wal-Mart has a great selection of these mini sized cooking utensils. As you can see I stalked up on spatulas, whisks and tongs!
  • Baking Utensils are kept with all my other baking supplies. I absolutely love this set and Bubby particularly likes the rolling pin. Right now he sort of whacks the counter with it, but you know, he’ll get there. 😉
  • Strawberry Slicer–Some folks might think this is silly or unsafe, but as he has gotten older and more in control with his motor skills, this slicer has been the bomb. He LOVES pushing down on it and watching the strawberries squish through! And bonus, he can eat what he slices!
  • This hand held fruit and veggie chopper made me nervous at first. But as he has grown, he loves cutting bananas with it. Again, this is one of those skills they develop and if you know anything about Montessori, you know this isn’t unusual to see toddlers use these kinds of utensils.
  • One of my other top favorite items is this tater masher. I used to use beaters to make our mashed potatoes, but now Bubby gets a big kick out of smashing them for us with his own masher.

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As you can see, I keep a jar with a lid and a small bowl of pasta so he can do his little “sorting” game he does. This is one of those of quick items I grab when I’m cooking something hot and I need him to be independent from what I’m doing.

Toddler Apron
If you’re going to be doing all that cooking, then you can’t go wrong with this laminated Toddler apron. It didn’t even occur to me to get one until a friend of mine kind said one time, “uh you know they make kid aprons, right?”. This one works just right for us and I like that I can wipe it clean.

Alrighty, mamas, let’s hear it. What would you add? What are some of your favorite items to have in the kitchen with your littles? Let’s chat in the comments below!

Peace,
Glo

Five Items Under $20 Your Kitchen Needs for the Holidays

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The holidays are coming and the cooking is happening. Holiday party at the office, party at your neighbor’s, cookies for your son’s first grade class and the list goes on and we haven’t even hit December yet! Not to mention the annoyance that happens when I go to make those mentioned cookies for my son and my husband did not clean off the sheet from his pizza from the night before. Thankfully, I got a hack for that. Read more below, you’ll thank me later.

Find an awesome recipe online, but it calls for a food processor? I don’t know about you, but food processors are a tiny investment, so many folks don’t have one and you need to make cookies NOW. Don’t worry, I got a tip for that too to help you “process” that dough.

I am always looking for ways to make my life easier in the kitchen. When it comes to managing food for your household and you’re on a budget, we all need the little help we can get. I thought you’d like to see some of my favorite kitchen items I use ALL. THE. FREAKING. TIME. And guess what? They’re all mostly $20 or LESS. So without further ado, here are some items you are going to want to check out to make your kitchen life a little easier this time of year.

(This post contains affiliate links which means if you click through then I may get a small commission to aid in my coffee and writing addiction. Thanks 🙂

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Silicone Cooking Sheets
I seriously do not know how I survived this long without these genius cooking sheets. I can put the stickiest cookies known to man on these puppies and when they are done baking, the crumbs and crusted goods just wipe right off with the dish rag. Forget crusted cheese pizza you have to scrape off with some heavy duty elbow grease! Forget worrying about your baked chicken sticking to the pan. No joke. These sheets alone will save you time in the kitchen. Dare I say, they may make you WANT to bake cookies…

Handheld Mixer (Beaters)
I didn’t even know what a food processor was until a few years ago. Yes, I lived in a box, apparently. I guess I heard of it but it seemed like a mystery to me. I remember reading recipes that called for a food processor and I just shrugged my shoulders moving on to the next recipe. I remember watching Martha Bakes and she used one to make some cookie dough. It dawned on me that I had been using hand-held beaters for as long as I can remember to basically do any job a food process does (within reason, obviously you can’t chop carrots with beaters!). My tip for you is to have these on hand for that recipe that requires mixing with a food processor. They take up little space and are awesome to have for a quick go-to in your kitchen to speed up the mixing process. Your Thanksgiving snickerdoodle cookies will thank you. And your friends will love that homemade cheesecake you whipped up with these bad boys.


Hand Blender
If you have been dying to make some homemade soup, or need any sort of quick blending, pureeing of any kind, then you seriously need to consider having one of these in your home for the holidays. And better yet, I bet you use it throughout the year too. I use mine to make baby food, a quick yogurt smoothie, or a yummy berry glaze for my waffles. This little guy is so versatile, don’t be quick to shrug it off as a waste of space. It will help you make the yummiest broccoli and cheese soup. Trust me.

Handheld Slicer & Dicer (with storage container attached)
This one is $22 but I absolutely LOVE IT and I would guess this is another one you’ll use more than just for the holidays. I HATE chopping onions for a wintry chili. I can’t stand cutting up carrots for stew. I just want it done quick and fast. I received one of these as a Christmas gift from my mom a few years back and I don’t know what I did without it. The clean up is easy. I can move it around wherever I need it in the kitchen because there are no chords. This is definitely one of my staple kitchen items that gets used even more than during the holidays!

Pan Organizers
I don’t know about you, but during the holiday season I tend to cook more. Shoot, during the fall and winter alone I find our stove and oven use triples! It’s during these times when I grunt and groan because pans and sheets don’t get put back where I’d like and I can never seem to find that one small skillet I love to use for breakfast sausage. This feeling of angst increases during the holidays. There’s no time like the present to make your kitchen as accessible as possible so you can enjoy baking without the searching and groaning. I bought one of these a few years back and it has made grabbing pans so much easier. I bought this one too to organize my cookie sheets and muffins pans. It’s fabulous.

Here are a quick few more of my favorites in the kitchen to cut down on annoyance, because hey, wine can only do so much 😉 and to help cut down on the budget if I need freeze or reuse items.

Extras
silicone muffin cups–because you can freeze any liquid in these and reuse them for all your baking needs!
2 cup pyrex with lid–becuase measureing 1 and 3/4 cup never felt easier.
ice cube trays–because I’m addicted to freezing leftover turkey, chicken, or beef broth to reuse for later.
cooling rack–because I get tired of using parchment paper to cool cookies
gallon freezer bags–did I mention I have a freeze-the-leftovers problem??

What about you? What are some of your favorite, staple items in your kitchen that are fairly inexpensive? Tell use below!
Peace,
Glo

Juicy & Flavorful Easy Shepherd’s Pie

 

I love recipes that can be used during the cold months and warm months. Typically, I tend to cook with the seasons. You wouldn’t find me cooking chili in the middle of July in Kansas. However, I do have one recipe that I love to use all year around and that is Shepherd’s Pie.

I remember my mom making this frequently growing up. I’m sure with my mother having six kids, she had those dishes that were her staple meals. Easy to make. Easy ingredients on hand. Can make big batches to feed a lot of hungry mouths. Enter Shepherd’s pie. What I love about this dish is it’s simple wholesomeness. You don’t have to add a lot of processed anything to this which makes it a perfect dish on our Supper Sundays.

 

Easy Shepherd's Pie that's juicy & Flavorful

The listed ingredients below are for a 9×9 baking dish. I think you could easily make a pound of ground beef stretch over a 9 x 13 pan for a bigger family. The beef wouldn’t be as hearty, so if you want beefy beef, then go with two pounds of meat.

 

 

PREP TIME: 30ISH MINUTES
BAKE: 350 degrees
COOK TIME: 1 HOUR

INGREDIENTS
1 pound of ground, cooked beef
1/3 cup of any broth you have on hand. (I have used beef, chicken, and vegetable. They all taste good!)
2 TBSP of flour
1/3 of an onion, diced and chopped up
1/8 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
3ish Celery sticks (you could save the rest for some yummy chicken stock)
3ish Carrot sticks (more for the chicken stock!)
1 package of frozen corn (don’t worry about thawing).
5-10 potatoes to make Mashed potatoes. (I found for 9×9 pan, 5 seems to be a good number, so 10 might be good for 9×13 depending on how much you want.)
1/2 cup cheddar cheese (optional)

 INSRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. While browning beef, have your potatoes boiling.
  3. As the beef is browning, add in your seasonings to help savor the flavor. This is where you add the onion, pepper, and garlic powder. Feel free to play around with flavors here. My husband loves it when I add Montreal Steak seasoning.
  4. While beef is browning and potatoes are cooking, chop up your carrots and celery and mix together in bowl with your frozen corn. Again, you can play around with what vegetables to use here. I know some people like adding peas, whereas I prefer celery.
  5. Once your beef is done browning, add your broth and flour. The meat should have a sort of gushy texture. Let this simmer on low while you finish off with the mashed potatoes.
  6. Once you’re done with your mashed potatoes, I would grease the bottom of your dish for good measure. Add your beef mixture to your pan.
  7. After the beef mixture, add your vegetable mixture.
  8. If you want to add cheese, this is when I add the cheese layer. To help cut out any extra additives, we use white cheddar cheese.
  9. Lastly, add your mashed potatoes! (crummy photo, I know.)

I cook mine without covering it because we like a sort of crunchy top. Some folks cover the whole time, or uncover halfway through and add more cheese to the top. Pick what you want! I think an hour cooking time would work for 9×9 or 9×13 since essentially it’s all cooked before hand. Our vegetables are always a soft crunch no matter how long I cook this, but I think that’s the nature of using carrot sticks and celery, in my opinion. I love the consistency the meat has with the added broth and flour because it keeps the casserole from being dry.

Any other shepherd pie recipes out there you’d like to share or add to this one? Comment below with your yummy tips!

CHEERS!
Glo

P.S. Interested in joining in with our Mom Tribe? Learn more here.

Supper Sundays: Spinach Gnocchi

I was really excited about this recipe! I love anything Italian!! Gnocchi is an Italian dish and I was excited for Lisa to post this recipe to her website.

For our dinner we had a big salad, the gnocchi and some of Lisa’s cheddar and garlic drop biscuits.
I love making a quadruple batch of her cheddar garlic biscuits and then freezing them. They are so easy to get out of the freezer real quick before dinner and warm them up in the microwave!

Spinach Gnocchi an Italian dish that everyone should try!

Here are Lisa’s ingredients (click here for her entire recipe):
1-10 ounce bag of frozen spinach (I used fresh spinach and eyeballed what I thought would be enough)
1 1/2 cup of ricotta cheese, whole milk. (I just bought the smallest container they had and used it all, so 10 oz)
3/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese
1 1/4 cup of whole wheat flour
1 egg
Salt and pepper to taste
Special tools needed: food processor

The steps are pretty easy: put it all in a food processor and go for it! BUT if you don’t have a food processor…
I tried this with just handheld beaters to see how it would play out for our readers who don’t have one. I went for a long time without a food processor (although now that we have one, I LOVE IT!).

If you know how to use your beaters, you can figure out ways to handle big batches of ingredients that require using a good amount of flour. Now, since I “eyeballed” my spinach, and was not exact in my measurements of ricotta cheese, mine may have turned out doughier than how hers turned out.

I found that I ended up using almost 2 whole cups of flour, instead of the 1 1/4 cups to get the goop to not stick to my fingers anymore so I could handle it to make the shapes needed to cook the stuff. I was afraid adding more flour would hinder the taste, so I kept tasting it throughout and found that it everything seemed to be in good order.

Once you get it all mixed to a non-sticky texture, you want to make it into a log so you can cut it up into cubes to drop in a boiling pan of water.
This is where a silicone mat would come in reeeeal handy so your “dough” doesn’t stick to everything. If you don’t have any, you’ll definitely want to use a floured surface. In fact, if you find your mixture is still “sticky” to the touch, you might try putting it on your floured surface and add more that way.

(The more I started making this recipe, the more I just started using two spoons to scoop out “blobs” to drop into the boiling water. Works like a charm for me 🙂 )

My logs weren’t very pretty 🙂 Neither is this picture….
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As you can see, I got about 25 dough balls from my logs. If you have a family of four, I would guess this would last you for the one meal. I wouldn’t expect leftovers. We are big leftover people. I like having them for lunch in the week.

Next you’ll want to drop them into a big pan of boiling water. Once they all start floating towards the top, you know they are done.

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So what do you serve with your gnocchi? Whatever you want! I believe it’s popular to serve it with a tomato-based sauce. I had a pan of sauce warming on the stove while they were boiling. I also warmed up the garlic drops and put our salad together. What I love about recipes like this is that Bubby can join in. He loved the gnocchi!

 

Have you ever made gnocchi before? Any other Italian dishes you think we should try? I am always looking for wholesome cooking suggestions!

Cheers!

Supper Sundays: Homemade Tomato Bisque with Homemade Crackers

This meal is pretty simple. My goal for this meal was to freeze the leftovers and see then later how the soup tasted after being frozen. Check out the recipe I used Lisa’s recipe from 100daysofrealfood.com.

If you are just joining us for Supper Sundays, you can see why I use Lisa’s site here.

If you are a soupie, then I would recommend this recipe as a base to start with. It’s pretty basic and as I got into it, I realized I could have tweaked the recipe more to my liking. The end result was good, but this wasn’t my favorite. I love tomato basil soup and wished I would have thought sooner to change a few things up. I’ll have to try my ideas next time!

Homemade Tomato Bisque Recipe for the soup lover!

 

If you are making any sort of homemade soup that calls for heavy cream, and you like having that creamy effect, then I would highly recommend using a hand immersion blender. Lisa mentions that you could put this in the blender in batches if you don’t have a hand immersion blender. I say save yourself the trouble, pay the $20 on Amazon and get one. They come in handy for so many little things if you think to use it.

As with any soup, I LOVE having bread, so we whipped up some grilled cheese using white cheddar cheese and homemade honey wheat bread.

What I liked about this soup:
*Very simple, basic ingredients

*I’ve realized I like anything that calls for heavy cream.

*Pretty quick, including prep time

*You can leave it on your stove for a while if you need to make it ahead of time.

*I liked using minced bacon! This gave the soup a nice flare.

*The quality of taste was the same when eating it after it was frozen.

*if you haven’t tried it yet, Lisa’s homemade crackers are really yummy. They went well with this soup.

What I will do differently next time:
*Use less onion. She calls for a whole onion in this recipe. Mike and I felt like it was too much for our liking. I think this is what sort of ruined it for us actually.

*I think I will use some different herbs next time. I LOVE tomato basil soup and this is inspiring to try making my own that I really like.

Overall, I would give this a 3.5 on taste, but only because of the onion. I don’t want to hold that against the recipe 🙂 Very tasty and cozy for a winter day!

Cheers! Next week, we’ll be having Spinach Gnocchi!

Crock Pot Chicken and Dumplings with Homemade Crackers

I had been really wanting to try this recipe from Lisa’s site and decided to give it a go this week! I tweaked it and added my own dumplings AND threw it in the crock pot. It worked out perfectly!

Quick digression: Eating wholesome, as little processed food has really started to carry over into our day-to-day eating. I’ve been reading, researching and studying more and more about what does organic really mean and is it worth it to buy everything organic. I’m startingto come to some conclusions and will post about it soon, but needless to say, things are changing in our house!

Crock Pot Chicken Noodle and Dumpling Recipe

Where were we? Yes, homemade chicken dumpling crockpot soup! That was a mouthful!

I used the recipe from 100daysofrealfood.com. Honestly, I’m pretty picky about my soups, so I was a little worried about this one. Mainly because the base for this soup is homemade chicken stock. I have used Lisa’s before, but this time I went with dontwastethecrumbs.

I like how Tiffany carves herself up a raw whole chicken freezes parts up for meals later on. Don’t get me wrong, if I want to cook the whole chicken to eat, like Lisa’s then I would! I’ve made a whole chicken and used remaining parts for meals later in the week, but sometimes I don’t have a bunch of chicken on our menu for the week, so I like Tiffany’s approach. There is a little bit of a taste difference, but they are BOTH YUMMY! 

TIPS for the crock pot:
*I used farfalle pasta so Bubby could more easily grab the pasta.

*Speaking of stock—make some. It is soooooo worth it! I was intimated to do it at first, but now it’s no big deal! The nice thing about making it (either Lisa’s way or Tiffany’s way) is that you get an instant meal out of it or you can set yourself up for later meals AND it’s SUPER EASY! Chicken stock can be used for soooooo many things too! I use it in Chicken Enchiladas, rice, etc. I plan to use some for my next Supper Sunday Homemade Tomato Bisque! If you make some, I highly recommend storing them as ice cubes. So easy to use that way!

*I love crock post recipes. I recommend putting the noodles in about an hour before eating and the dumplings in about 45 minutes before you plan to eat turning the pot up to high.

*The longer you let it simmer, the bigger your noodles get, which means the less amount of liquid you have over time. When we opened the lid to eat, I felt like quite a bit had absorbed in the noodles, which was yummy, but I wanted more liquid so I added some more.

DUMPLINGS: I just start with about 3/4 cup of whole white wheat flour and add a little milk until I get the “blob” consistency that I want. I drop them in the crock pot with a spoon and cover to let cook in the pot for about an hour on high.

 

Let’s talk HOMEMADE CRACKERS!

Again, I used Lisa’s recipe for this because it looked incredibly easy. I mean, it’s butter, cheese, and flour spinning around in a food processor. I must admit thought, I got a bit frustrated with this recipe.

In her directions, she says to be patient while it’s in the processor because it takes a little while for the dough to start chasing itself. Well, mine never did. I waited for almost 10 minutes! I did a load of dishes to pass the time! Of course her recipe calls for cold butter, which I used, but I’m wondering if the heat generated by my processor affected it somehow because my “dough” would never form. It just stayed nice and powdery in there.

I decided to add more butter. This helped some, but every time a dough ball started to form, it would fall away. Argh! I got tired of all this so I took it out, dumped it on my handy dandy silicone mat, formed it into a somewhat log, put it in the fridge for a bit, then came back and cut me up some crackers to cook in the oven.

20160130_095316They certainly did not turn out pretty like hers, as you can see from the photos, but they were yummy!

 

I guess I love them because I pretty much love anything flour, butter and cheese related 🙂 I ended up freezing leftover crackers to use for a later meal, which works out perfectly for my Tomato Bisque I’ll be making next week!

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Overall, I really loved the chicken dumplings. It was hearty and delicious and I liked having the farfalle. It seemed more filling! Bubby loved it as well! Husband loved the rosemary and thyme flavor of the stock so it was a BIG WIN for us at dinner time!

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Anyone have a homemade chicken noodle recipe or dumplings they love? Any tips? What about homemade chicken stock? Any tips for what I could have done about the cracker business?

CHEERS!
Glo

Homemade Cornbread & Pork Chops

Sorry we are a little late with this post! I made this during the week because I had a feeling I wouldn’t be able to on Sunday. (I was right. The mother-in-law came for a brief visit which means eating out for Sunday dinner.)

My goals for this meal:
1) Keep things minimal, low key. To do this we just had meat, cornbread and a salad.
2) Make cornbread from scratch as opposed to the boxed kind which has all sorts of added stuff!

porkchop

PORK CHOPS

I should explain why we are eating pork chops. When I was pregnant the first time, I had a serious aversion to pork. No bacon. No pork chops, tenderloin, etc. I had ham at Thanksgiving, but even that was a challenge. Honestly, I haven’t had pork since. For some reason I just can’t come back to it. I decided to try and face my fears to see if I could get back on the pork wagon.

PORK CHOP MARINADE INGREDIENTS:
I just use a mix of ingredients of my choosing here. I knew what sounded good and what we like with other meats.

3 Pork Chops (I used “fresh” from the store)
Couple Squirts of BBQ Sauce, Ketchup, and a dash of brown sugar. (Very precise, I know.Healthy?)
1 TBSP of Apple Cider Vinegar
Large Ziploc Bag

I put all ingredients directly into the bag and then squish mix it all around so I don’t have to waste anymore dishes than I need to. I throw the meat in the bag and let it marinade in the fridge all afternoon. I do this during Asher’s afternoon nap so I can just put everything in the oven while we are getting him ready for bed, then we eat after he goes to bed.

COOK PORK CHOPS at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour.

TIP HERE: If you have silicone mats, they are AWESOME and keep the gooeyness of the chops from sticking to your pan. I have also lined my pan with aluminum foil, then pan spray and everything easily comes off that way too.

cornbread

CORNBREAD

I really love my boxed cornbread. I don’t typically follow the directions on the box because I add sweet condensed milk and vanilla, but I really wanted to get away from the extra process there since we eat it a lot in the winter with soups and roasts, etc.

I used Lisa’s recipe from 100daysofrealfood.com. I have discovered in my attempts so substitute maple syrup or honey for sugar as her recipes call for, that I prefer honey when I’m looking for the sweetness I get from sugar. Her recipe calls for maple syrup, so I substituted it with honey. I think this helped.

Substitutions to her recipe:

*I couldn’t find organic cornmeal, so I just used plain cornmeal with no additives I found in the “natural” selection at our store.

*Honey for maple syrup

*White block cheddar (I’m sure she used the healthiest version of cheese for hers too. I used white cheddar so there wasn’t any food coloring added. I also went with the block cheese and grated it to eliminate extra additives like the stuff to prevent cheese from caking.)

*I did not add any salt to mine.

*I made my own heavy cream. Recipe for that here. I didn’t have any at home and this works just fine! I find that the fatter the milk, the better this is. I have used this several times for recipes that call for heavy cream and I don’t keep this on hand.

*I added a little bit of vanilla to mine.

Easy Homemade Cornbread Muffin Recipe

Overall I felt like the corn bread was OK. I really feel like my sweet condensed milk does the trick and this cornbread missed that kick I was looking for. It was very moist and with butter melting on it, it tasted fine. My husband was not a big fan. I think I’ll make it again, but keep tweaking it some more. Like I said, I want a good, as little processed recipe as possible since we like our cornbread 🙂 Oh and I still am a little wary of pork!

Cheers!